Falling debris from Gastineau Apartments closes Pocket Park, demolition scheduled for November

first_imgJuneau | Public SafetyFalling debris from Gastineau Apartments closes Pocket Park, demolition scheduled for NovemberJuly 13, 2015 by Lisa Phu Share:Tourists stand in front of the closed Gunakadeit Park, also known as Pocket Park, on Monday. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)The burnt out Gastineau Apartments will finally be demolished by the end of November, according to Juneau’s city attorney. In the meantime, the city says the downtown buildings are a public safety concern. It’s temporarily closed the neighboring park due to falling debris.Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2015/07/14CLOSEDPARK.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The city closed Pocket Park at the end of last week.“One of our workers was in there the other day and noticed some broken glass in the fountain area,” says Colby Shibler, park maintenance supervisor for Parks and Recreation, “and realized that it wasn’t a broken bottle and then looked up and noticed a bunch of the windows were broken out in the building there and realized that the glass was probably falling out of the window or had been broken out from the inside, it looked like, and was concerned about glass falling on people in the park.”Dave Lane admits people have trespassed into the apartments in the past, but now he says the buildings are more secure. Lane does construction for the owners of Gastineau Apartments, James and Kathleen Barrett.“We as of late, and that being the past 8 months, 9 months, have been patrolling more. Almost every evening, we come through and we make sure there’s no one in here at that time. We made sure everything is secure to the best of our abilities,” Lane says.Gastineau Apartments still have unboarded, broken windows. (Photo by Lisa Phu/KTOO)City building official Charlie Ford says the Barretts are being negligent with security.“I had been working with Mr. Barrett to try and keep the building secured and all of a sudden, I noticed a side door was open and there was a ladder leaning up against the Rawn Way side of the building that was obviously used for access to get into the upper floors,” Ford says.Ford sent a letter to the Barretts Monday asking them to board up more windows and clean up the remaining glass shards. He says if they don’t care of it, the city will.Gastineau Apartments have been uninhabitable since a November 2012 fire. The city declared the buildings a public nuisance soon after. The Barretts have repeatedly missed deadlines for repairs or demolition. Part of the building caught on fire again in March.The Barretts had until June 19 to turn in paperwork and plans for demolishing the buildings. When they failed to do that, the city sent a letter a week later stating that it would demolish them on its own. At the end of June, the Assembly appropriated $1.8 million to do that.James Barrett says that’s hindered his own plans to sell or demolish the buildings. He says he’s talked to more than 30 companies.“It’s just put me at a standstill when we thought we were moving forward. I’m going to see where the other contractors who are bidding are going to end up. That’s about all I can do at this point,” Barrett says.Barrett says he’s seriously considering suing the city.Share this story:last_img read more

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Crystal Serenity to arrive in Nome Sunday

first_imgBusiness | Economy | North Slope | Tourism | TransportationCrystal Serenity to arrive in Nome SundayAugust 15, 2016 by Lauren Frost, KNOM-Nome Share:Crystal Serenity to Arrive in Nome on Sunday https://t.co/vRkmKmtqFA— KNOM News (@KNOMnews) August 15, 2016The city of Nome is busy preparing for the arrival of the Crystal Serenity cruise ship on Sunday, August 21, with the first boat of passengers docking at 8 a.m.The Crystal Serenity carries about 1,000 passengers, and it is the first vessel of that size to travel to Nome.Robin Johnson, a partner at local travel agency Nome Discovery Tours, said preparations for the Crystal Serenity began more than a year ago.“They came to us and said, ‘What can you develop for us?’” she said, “and we worked on that. And they told us what they liked, and what sounded good. We’ve been talking a lot all year. There’s been a ton of communication.”Nome Discovery Tours has prepared an extensive list of activities for Crystal Serenity passengers.Passengers can choose from a variety of hikes and flying tours, as well as a trip to Shishmaref and even a flight to Russia.Meanwhile, the Nome Berry Festival will give passengers a chance to experience the art, food, and entertainment that Nome has to offer.“So that will be a full day of music and crafts and food and dancing and door prizes and berry buckets,” Johnson said. “And I think there’s going to be a polar bear swim that evening as well. If everything falls into place like it’s supposed to, it’ll be a good day.”However, things might not fall into place if the weather is bad. Because the Crystal Serenity is too large for Nome’s port, the ship will anchor out at sea and passengers will be ferried to Nome’s shore.Choppy seas could make it impossible for passengers to deboard, but Johnson isn’t concerned.“Well, if the weather is really bad, getting them off the ship could be an issue,” she said. “But I don’t think that’s going to be a problem.”Share this story:last_img read more

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Skagway tourism season comes to a close

first_imgEconomy | Oceans | Southeast | Tourism | TransportationSkagway tourism season comes to a closeSeptember 30, 2016 by Abbey Collins, KHNS-Haines Share:As the air gets colder and the days shorter, the Skagway tourism season is coming to a close.Overall, tourism staff said this summer was a success.The last cruise ship of the season has come and gone and shop owners around Skagway are preparing for winter, cleaning up and closing their doors.The streets that were recently busy with visitors are quieting down.“Overall I think our 2016 season went remarkably well,” said Cody Jennings, Skagway’s tourism director. “From the feedback that I’ve had from local business owners and tour operators, everybody is really pleased with the season.”Skagway saw the biggest ship it’s ever seen this summer.The Royal Caribbean Explorer of the Seas made weekly visits to town, and holds just over 4,000 passengers at capacity.Jennings says the new addition was a success.“It went really great,” Jennings said. “I think it was a great addition to the mix of ships that we get here, everybody seemed to enjoy it.”The summer was not without its challenges.One day in September two ships couldn’t dock because of high winds. The Crown Princess holds just more than 3,000 passengers, the Nieuw Amsterdam about 2,000.“And all-in-all while that was unfortunate I think all-in-all that was really the only sort of hiccup that we had during the season,” Jennings said.There also was some concern going into the season about the exchange rate for Canadian tourists.The slumping Canadian dollar is about $0.76 against the stronger U.S. currency.But Jennings says it doesn’t seem to have been a problem.“From the feedback that I’ve received for example from hoteliers and the restaurants and stuff, obviously being on the border we get a fair amount of travelers just from our Canadian neighbors,” Jennings said. “But really we didn’t see much of an impact. Even in the RV parks. My understanding is the long weekends that they came down the continued to do so despite the dollar difference.”Jennings said Skagway continues to have a lot to offer visitors.“They come into this community and they see the effort that’s made in maintaining our downtown historic district,” Jennings said. “It’s incredibly charming and one of the things that we see often in our comment cards here is that the staff and community members are incredibly friendly. So I think that leaves an impression on our visitors and definitely one we want to leave.”She won’t have hard statistics on tourism dollars and numbers of visitors until later this year.The town anticipated 800,000 cruise ship visitors and 125,000 non-cruise ship travelers.With the last cruise ship gone, Jennings is confident it was a strong season.Share this story:last_img read more

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Glacial fjords home to surprise coral — but maybe not for long

first_imgAlaska’s Energy Desk | Climate Change | Environment | Juneau | Oceans | SoutheastGlacial fjords home to surprise coral — but maybe not for longOctober 26, 2016 by Elizabeth Jenkins, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Juneau Share:Bob Stone holds a 50 year old red tree coral. (Photo by Elizabeth Jenkins/KTOO)You might not expect coral to thrive in Southeast Alaska. But it exists in the silty waters of glacial fjords. Now scientists are wondering if the coral, which serves as important fish habitat, could be in danger from an invisible threat — ocean acidification. Audio Playerhttps://media.ktoo.org/2016/10/26REDCORAL_01.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Inside a lab at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Juneau headquarters, Bob Stone is showing me a red tree coral plucked from the bottom of Tracy Arm fjord. This one is dried, the color of ramen noodles. “If you feel it, it feels like popcorn,” Stone said.But in the wild, he says it’s an intense red, like the color of salmon roe. Stone is a fisheries research biologist at NOAA. And — until fairly recently — he didn’t know that coral could exist here. “Until 2003 nobody did. Or if they did, they weren’t telling.”Around 2004, someone did tell. Stone was giving a seminar and a person from the audience came up to him. They said they had seen this type of coral in a glacial fjord in Southeast Alaska. “And I said, ‘no you didn’t’ … and they showed me the specimen and it was indeed that.”The next year, NOAA received the funding to go see for themselves. Stone had his doubts because red tree coral typically lives far below the ocean’s surface —  in places like the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea, at depths of more than 2,000 feet. Glacial fjords, on the other hand, can be shallow. But its unique landscape replicates the environment of deeper water, so the coral can thrive. For Stone and the other scientists, that was a huge surprise. “The first time I saw one, I was amazed. I didn’t know what I was looking at,” Stone said. “They’re almost more of an orange color but they’re just a huge reddish orange tree under water. To me, they’re one of the more beautiful animals I’ve ever seen.”It also serves a very important function. Stone says scientists call the thickets of red tree coral “little forts” because they’re hideout for small species, like fish and crab.Image courtesy of NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center and Deep- Sea Coral Research and Technology Program.But around the same time scientists were discovering just how versatile this coral could be, they were also becoming increasingly concerned about changes in the ocean. “By the early 2000s, we had recognized the ocean was actually increasing in carbon dioxide level. That ocean acidification was happening,” said Tom Hurst.He studies the effects of climate change on marine life at a NOAA lab in Oregon. And his primary focus is commercial fisheries in Alaska. Hurst says, in part, the reason our oceans are becoming more acidic has to do with us.“Primarily from the burning of fossil fuels,” Hurst said. “So, you’re taking all this carbon that was stored underground in the form of coal and oil. And as we burn it we’re releasing all that carbon into the atmosphere.”And that becomes carbon dioxide which gets absorbed into the water. Now you’ve got a cocktail for ocean acidification. Still, Hurst says a big piece of the puzzle that’s missing for scientists is what that could mean for marine life. “We don’t really yet have a good handle on which of those things are going to be affected, how much they’re going to be affected and how those changes are going to ripple through the food web,” Hurst said.Already, in Washington state, ocean acidification has been linked to oysters not being able to fully develop their shells. As far as we know, that hasn’t happened in Alaska yet. But scientists have named places like Southeast Alaska and the Aleutian Chain as potentially threatened spots. Hurst says what’s next is figuring out how — not if — ocean acidification will impact different forms of sea life. Back at the NOAA lab in Juneau, Bob Stone is showing me a baby pollock suspended in a bottle. Typically, the coral helps shield the baby fish from predators. “This one right here, I actually collected in the coral by hand,” Stone said.Discovering the red tree coral in the glacial fjords has an added bonus. It makes it easier for scientists to retrieve since it’s in shallow water.  Now Stone is conducting an experiment to see how much ocean acidification could hurt the coral down the line. It has an easily dissolvable skeleton. And scientists are wondering if the added chemicals in the water could make it harder for the coral to reproduce. But ocean acidification may not be its only threat. The glacial fjords that are home to this surprise coral are also changing. “Well, yeah. We now realize that, say for example, in Tracy Arm, that the two main glaciers that are there go up into the alpine, up into the valleys rather, that system will shut off,” Stone said.When the glaciers disappear, the shallow water coral will, too. Share this story:last_img read more

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Fairbanks representative looks to improve rural internet

first_imgBusiness | Economy | Interior | Science & Tech | State GovernmentFairbanks representative looks to improve rural internetNovember 15, 2016 by Dan Bross, KUAC-Fairbanks Share:Fairbanks state Representative David Guttenberg has a plan for improving internet service in rural areas of the state.A bill Guttenberg is sponsoring would create a state corporation to contract with service providers to build infrastructure that’s too costly for individual companies to invest in.Audio Playerhttp://media.aprn.org/2016/ann-20161114-07.mp300:0000:0000:00Use Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.“Put out a job that we need this many towers in these locations to fill the gap. We need this much fiber optics,” Guttenburg said. “The state owns that, and it just sells that at-cost so it’s not expensive. Right now one of the companies wants to bring up broadband. It’s very expensive to run the line or download broadband from some place. This would lower those costs.”The plan targets so called “middle mile infrastructure” that connects internet service providers with local networks Guttenberg said. The plan calls for tapping existing federal universal service fee revenue to pay for the work.“Take money that’s already there,” Guttenburg said. “I’m not raising taxes. I’m not collecting new taxes. But use some of this universal service fund that’s already on everybody’s bill, and target it to the problems instead of continuing paying the subsidy to the industry.”Guttenberg will travel to Washington, D.C., this week to meet with Federal Communications Commission officials to discuss the legislation, and determine if it can dovetail into an FCC plan to address broadband issues in Alaska.The plan released Aug. 31 said it builds on an Alaska Telephone Association proposal to provide carriers with the option of receiving fixed amounts of support over the next ten years to deploy and maintain networks.Share this story:last_img read more

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John Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth, dies at 95

first_imgNation & World | Science & TechJohn Glenn, first American to orbit the Earth, dies at 95December 8, 2016 by Russell Lewis, NPR Share:The first American to orbit the Earth has died. John Glenn was the last surviving member of the original Mercury astronauts. He would later have a long political career as a U.S. senator, but that didn’t stop his pioneering ways.Glenn made history a second time in 1998, when he flew aboard the shuttle Discovery to become the oldest person to fly in space. Glenn was 95; he had been hospitalized in an Ohio State University medical center in Columbus since last week.Glenn had been battling health issues since a stroke a few years ago. His death Thursday was confirmed by Hank Wilson, communications director of the John Glenn College of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University.An early explorerOn Feb. 20, 1962, when John Glenn rocketed into space, it was momentous and nerve-racking. Space travel was in its infancy. Every launch and mission captivated the imagination of America.A few minutes after liftoff, Glenn’s Friendship 7 capsule reached orbit and people listened in with excitement and awe.“Roger, zero G and I feel fine,” Glenn relayed from space. “Capsule is turning around. Oh, that view is tremendous!”So much about space in those days was unknown and laughable today. Scientists designed experiments to study whether astronauts could eat or drink in space. Doctors were concerned that human eyes would change shape, making it hard to operate during re-entry.Then there was the technology. Rockets exploded during testing, sometimes with the astronauts watching. In 2012, on the 50th anniversary of his Mercury flight, Glenn reflected on the danger.“It was important because of the Cold War,” Glenn said at a Smithsonian forum. “It was a new step forward, and we were proud to be representing our country there. And so … you made it as safe as you possibly could, and what little bit of risk was left, we accepted that.”Any trip to space is risky, and Glenn’s mission was no exception. During his three-orbit flight, controllers were concerned about an automated warning that the capsule’s heat shield had come loose.After the flight, he became a national hero. He befriended President John F. Kennedy and received a ticker-tape parade in New York City.“I think John Glenn will be remembered as an actual hero at a time when heroes are often called heroes but are not,” says Francis French, the author of many books on the space program’s early days.French says Glenn was basically an all-American boy with a photogenic smile and a quick wit.“I think John Glenn is one of those people that’s going to stay in the history books,” he says. “And even the most cynical of history readers is going to go, ‘This guy actually is what everybody says he was.’ ”French says Glenn was “exactly at the right place at the right time for when America needed somebody to not only become the first American to orbit the Earth, but to actually project what it meant for America to put a person into space.”A life in flight and politicsGlenn was a highly-decorated Marine who flew 59 combat missions in the South Pacific during World War II. During the Korean War, he flew 90 combat missions, using different models of new jet fighters.He remained in the military through the 1950s, testing supersonic aircraft and other military models. In all, he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross five times. In 1958 he was one of 508 pilots tested for what became the Mercury program, an accelerated response to the Soviet Union’s successful launch of the first satellite in 1957.He left NASA in 1964. Later he would learn that, at the time, NASA and President Kennedy had deemed him too valuable to fly in space again.In 1974, he was elected to represent Ohio in the U.S. Senate. Two years later, Glenn’s name was among those mentioned as a running mate for Democratic presidential nominee Jimmy Carter, but Carter ended up picking Sen. Walter Mondale of Minnesota.Glenn campaigned in the Democratic primary for the 1984 presidential election, but ended up losing to Mondale.But he remained in the Senate, serving four six-year terms.During his Senate career he was noted for his attention to NASA and to national defense. He was also remembered for his support for the Panama Canal treaty in the late 1970s and for his resistance to the decision to televise the Senate floor debates on C-SPAN. He warned that the Senate’s reputation for deliberation would suffer if it became, in effect, a TV show. He retired from politics in 1999.A pioneer once againBut as his political career was ending, he wanted to go back to space. In 1998, he lobbied NASA to fly again. Glenn spent nine days aboard the shuttle Discovery — for science.“For four days, I had 21 different leads — brainwaves and respiration and EKG — 21 different body parameters being recorded and sent down to the ground,” Glenn said in 2011.As a 77-year-old, he became the oldest person to fly in space. His flight revived public interest in NASA. But when NASA canceled the shuttle program and scaled back its ambitious exploration efforts, Glenn lamented the loss. He spoke during a 2011 forum at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.“The average person [was] better educated … back years ago than most people in the world. And then we put more into basic research and learned the new things first,” he said. “That little combination is just as true today. If we lose that edge in research and education, we won’t be a leading nation in the world. It’s that simple.”Ron Elving contributed to this story.Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.Share this story:last_img read more

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Feds extend Obamacare deadline for some Alaskans

first_imgFederal Government | Health | SyndicatedFeds extend Obamacare deadline for some AlaskansFebruary 26, 2017 by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News Share:Some Alaskans have another chance to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.Enrollment for insurance through the Affordable Care Act has been reopened for some Alaskans. (File photo)A special enrollment period is being offered to those who were in a plan from Moda Health last year.That company has since dropped out of the program, though it provides other coverage in the state.Jon Zasada of the Alaska Primary Care Association said some Moda customers didn’t know they could sign up for a plan from Premera, the state’s only ACA provider.“If they were effectively covered at the end of the year and lost their insurance due to the fact that Moda was no longer in the market, they are eligible for a special enrollment period through March 1st of 2017 for the 2017 coverage year,” he said.Details are available through the website getcoveredalaska.org.Enrollment for most other Alaskans had to be completed by the end of January. But those with significant life events, such as marriage or having a child, are allowed to sign up at other times.The Trump administration and Congress have vowed to repeal or significantly change the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.But Zasada said those enrolled will likely have coverage through the end of this year.“No official action has been taken yet that changes the current law,” he said. “If folks are interested in gaining coverage and learning about their options, given the current set of rules or under any changes that might be coming up, we are available to help.”Some 27,000 Alaskans have coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplace.Share this story:last_img read more

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Alaskans among victims of Las Vegas shooting rampage

first_imgCrime & Courts | Interior | Nation & World | SouthcentralAlaskans among victims of Las Vegas shooting rampageOctober 2, 2017 by Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media Share:The welcome to Las Vegas sign, Dec. 25, 2007. (Creative Commons photo by William Beem)At least two Alaskans are dead, and another is wounded, after a gunman’s rampage at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. Many other residents were at the event and fled to safety, sending messages back to family overnight and into Monday.Mike Cronk, 48, lives in Tok, and was at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival when gunshots erupted late Sunday night. He described what happened during an interview with ABC News.“It was very horrifying. At first it sounded like fireworks, and then my buddy that was standing right next to me said ‘I’m hit,’ and then we knew it was real,” Cronk told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos.The friend hit was 52-year-old Rob McIntosh of North Pole. According to the Alaska Dispatch News, McIntosh’s family expect to make a full recovery.McIntosh is one of more than 500 people injured in the shooting.Cronk waited for the gunfire to stop before he and others climbed over a fence, put McIntosh on a cart and rushed to safety. They loaded four injured people into a truck and raced them toward medical care.“One of the guys in our truck did not make it, either,” Cronk said. “I carried him out of the truck and he passed away in my arms.”The shooting is being called the worst in modern U.S. history, with 59 people dead as of Monday afternoon. Among them is Anchorage resident Dorene Anderson, who according to social media called herself a stay-at-home mother. Her daughter wrote on Facebook that Anderson was one of the victims. The post was shared on a page for fans of the Alaska Aces hockey team, which was a passion of Anderson’s.Another victim is 35-year-old Adrien Murfitt, a graduate of Dimond High School in Anchorage who commercial fished out of Chignik on the Alaska Peninsula. Murfitt’s mother, Avonna, described her son as tall, handsome and shy most of the time. He was a big country music fan and went to the festival annually. This year he was celebrating a successful fishing season.“He decided to go down there with his friend, life-time friend from Anchorage, Brian McKinnon,” Murfitt said.Murfitt began learning about what was happening from her son’s ex-girlfriend, who was also at the festival, and called crying in a panic to say she thought she’d seen Adrien get shot.Murfitt stayed up all night.“We’ve called the Red Cross, we called all the hospitals because we didn’t know if he was one of the ones who was in the trauma unit or not. But nobody had any records of him, so I still don’t know where he is and nobody’s called me,” Murfitt said.“But Brian saw him die,” Murfinn said, referring to McKinnon. “I called Brian about 6 this morning and he finally told me.”Murfitt said her son was killed in the first round of shots that rained down on 22,000 concert-goers. In videos posted to social media of the assault, long bursts of what sounds like automatic gunfire cut through a performance by country musician Jason Aldean. The New York Times reports that at least 20 rifles were found inside the 32nd floor hotel room of the suspected gunman, Nevada resident Stephen Paddock, including AR-15s, rifles set up on tripods and outfitted with scopes, along with hundreds of rounds of ammunition. Paddock is believed to have killed himself before law enforcement reached him, and no motive is yet known.Murfitt said that among his siblings, family and friends, her son will be tremendously missed.“He was just enjoying life. And it’s just such a terrible thing that happened. Just a young man enjoying life, having a good time after a hard season of work,” Murfitt said. “And I love him. I love him.”It’s not known how many Alaskans were in Las Vegas for the festival. Throughout Monday, stories came in of relatives calling and scouring social media to locate loved ones who’d attended. That included Gov. Bill Walker, whose niece was in Las Vegas.“We watched it last night, and we knew she was at the concert so we were very concerned,” Walker said in a short interview Monday.Eventually he got a text saying she was safe.“At that point they were hiding in a hotel basement,” he said.Walker spent part of Monday calling families of those killed and injured, some of whom he has personal connections with.“I, of course, convey my condolences, but I also want to find out what I can do to help them,” Walker said.One request was made of him, and Walker said he’s following up on it.At this point Walker has no plans of pushing Alaska’s congressional delegation for any changes to national gun policies.“Today’s not the day to have that discussion. I don’t have any intention at this time of doing that. Right now we’re dealing with the loss and the tragedy,” Walker said. “I’ll continue to reach out in any way I can help the families of the victims.”Flags in Alaska and around the country will be flown at half-staff until Friday.Alaska Public Media’s Casey Grove contributed to this story. Share this story:last_img read more

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Fairbanks mayor says Eielson’s F-35s will save the borough’s economic bacon

first_imgEconomy | Interior | MilitaryFairbanks mayor says Eielson’s F-35s will save the borough’s economic baconOctober 20, 2017 by Tim Ellis, KUAC Share:354th Fighter Wing Commander Col. David Mineau, left, and Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Karl Kassel prepare to fly in one of the F-16s at Eielson Air Force Base in October 2017. (Photo by Isaac Johnson/354th FW public affairs)Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Karl Kassel said the buildup associated with two squadrons of F-35 warplanes that’ll be coming to Eielson Air Force Base in a couple of years will offset decreases in population and state funding that are both being driven by Alaska’s recession-wracked economy.In better times, Kassel might be crowing about an expansion of the Fairbanks area’s economy that would be driven by half a billion dollars in construction and 5,000 new people who are expected to be drawn here by the F-35s. Instead, the mayor said he’s just glad that the economic benefits will basically just enable the area to hold its own.“So, it’s huge for all of us in the borough,” Kassel said, “and it’s helping save our bacon so to speak with the changing economy and what’s going on in the state.”What’s going on statewide is a continuation of the economic slowdown that’s been under way for more than three years now caused by plummeting oil prices and a corresponding free-fall of state revenues that come from the industry. According to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, Alaska’s unemployment rate in August stood at 6.3 percent. In the borough, it was 5.5 percent. Statewide job growth, wage growth, GDP growth and home prices were all down by more than two percentage points in August from the 10-year average.So Kassel said the near-term prospect of slow or no growth of the borough’s economy doesn’t sound too bad.“We’re going to see our economy stay comparatively flat,” Kassel said. “While the rest of the state is going to be taking a pretty good hit.”Kassel took a few minutes away from schmoozing during Tuesday’s F-35 celebration of sorts at Eielson to explain studies that suggest most of the 5,000 people coming to the area with the warplanes also will likely offset a decrease in the Fairbanks-area population that’s largely due to cuts in funding for state agencies and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.“We have also been quantifying the exodus from Fairbanks as a result of cuts at the university (and) state cuts,” Kassel said. “There’s been a number of those that are resulting in people leaving Fairbanks now.”Kassel said most of the new residents probably will find homes on the city’s east side, closer to Eielson, while much of the population loss likely will occur on the west side, around the university.Share this story:last_img read more

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Defense secretary highlights Alaska’s strategic military role during Eielson visit

first_imgFederal Government | Interior | MilitaryDefense secretary highlights Alaska’s strategic military role during Eielson visitJune 26, 2018 by Tim Ellis, KUAC-Fairbanks Share:The U.S. military increasingly relies on Alaska, the defense secretary said Monday, both to provide a base of operations to maintaining dominance of the Indian and Pacific oceans to the south and to enable the Coast Guard and Navy to maintain control of U.S. Arctic waters, to the north.Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis speaks with Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan on June 25, 2018 on the Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, flight line. Mattis and Sullivan held a joint press conference after a visit to Fort Greely, Alaska. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Eric M. Fisher/U.S. Air Force)U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis spoke at a news conference Monday morning at Eielson Air Force Base, after a tour of the missile-defense facility at Fort Greely.Mattis stopped at Eielson during the first of a five-day trip to Asia, where he’ll meet separately with Chinese, South Korean and Japanese officials.He told reporters at Eielson before resuming his trip that the military sees Alaska as the key to the U.S. military’s policy of maintaining dominance of what he calls the Indo-Pacific region.“It is probably the gateway to the Pacific in many, many ways,” Mattis said.Mattis has just returned from a quick tour of the missile-defense base at Fort Greely.He says the interceptor missiles there constitute the cornerstone of the defense of the homeland – and two adjacent and increasingly important regions.“The interceptors we have up here – I will just tell you ladies and gentlemen that Alaska is in many ways the absolute center of the defense of our country, for the Indo-Pacific region and certainly over the polar ice cap,” Mattis said.The secretary says the Pentagon is challenged to respond to the opening of the Arctic Ocean because of retreating sea ice, which has opened sea lanes and access to resources in the region.Other nations, especially Russia and China, are taking advantage of that, he said, and are increasingly active in the Arctic, which the Pentagon now considers a region of growing strategic importance.“It’s cited as an area of concern with our national-security strategy, as it looks more broadly,” Mattis said. “As a national defense strategy, it looks more specifically how we deal with certain other countries in the world.”Mattis appreciates Congress’s efforts to support construction of six icebreakers, three heavy vessels and three medium, to replace the nation’s two aging heavy icebreakers – one of which has been in drydock in Seattle for eight years now.The U.S. needs more infrastructure to support the new vessels, he said, including a deepwater port on the Bering Sea coast. But Mattis says the nation has a ways to go to acquire the assets needed to protect U.S. interests in the Arctic.“The reality is that we’re going to have to deal with the developing Arctic – and it is developing,” Mattis said. “It’s also going to open not just to transport, but also to energy exploration.”Sen. Dan Sullivan, who accompanied Mattis on his flight to Alaska, says the Senate last week approved a provision in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act to fund construction of the six icebreakers.The senator said he’ll work to keep that provision from being stripped out of the final version that’s now being worked on in a conference committee.Congress has already authorized a federal study on a Western Alaska port to support the new icebreakers.“Two years ago, we did get a provision in there – again, into law – for the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security to look at the need and characteristics of what we determined was called a strategic Arctic port,” Sullivan said.Sullivan said in a follow-up interview that the Senate also has authorized a study of further expansion of the missile-defense base at Fort Greely beyond the project now under way that would increase the number of interceptor missiles to 60.“Last year’s bill, we did put in a provision for them to look at a study for a hundred silos there – so that would be total, a total of a hundred,” Sullivan said.Sullivan said those additional interceptors would still be needed even if U.S. negotiators secure an agreement with North Korea to give up its nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles, the nation’s defense would still require the additional interceptors.“You still have Iran,” Sullivan said. “You still have other rogue nations.”Sullivan predicts continued expansion of the base at Greely and other missile-defense facilities, including radar sites at Clear and Shemya, and more testing at the Pacific Space Launch Complex in Kodiak.Share this story:last_img read more

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